Wednesday, April 22, 2009

International Symposium on the Genocide Against Tutsi 2009 (Day 3)

Informal Conference Notes

Kigali Serena Hotel

April 6, 2009

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda vis a vis the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

ICTR was established 15 years ago. Soon to be closed down. UNSC already established that the tribunal has seen its days and must be completed soon.
Any assessment of transitional justice systems must be seen in the time when you are assessing them. Nuremberg as example: 1945, there were very different views of the process (people saw it as victor’s justice, unfair to Germans).
What a great precedent (?) Clarifications on the law of genocide.
1. Significant contribution to fighting impunity—some of the top planners of the genocide. Been able to do so after these people were extradited and handed over. This issue of surrender is a big challenge to prosecuting main leaders of genocide. Many from the Holocaust never had to face a judge. Less pressure on states to do something.
2. ICTR has been able to keep the Rwandan genocide on the agenda of the UN. They have to report to the UNSC. Recent judgment of Bagosora case even got press in Europe.
3. Can help on the fight against denial. International community has no way to escape the fact that we are discussing genocide.

Shortcomings: too slow, too costly, too far away, mismanagement. But relationship between victims and ICTR is a big shortcoming too. For the creators of the ICTR, victims were only witnesses. It becomes clear from all of the establishing documents. Member states of UN said to ICTR that main purpose is to prosecute and punish, not to get engaged in dialogue with victims.

Victims of international criminal justice… ICTR has heard the complaints, and ICC is trying to incorporate them. New relationship between victims and international criminal justice going to develop in ICC. In ICC preamble, it mentions the victims.

Participation of victims. ICC: want victims to participate in proceedings. Raises questions (like DRC, Darfur) how do you involve hundreds of thousands of victims?

Reparation: Responsabilites nationale et international/ Reparation: National and International Responsibilities

Need restorative justice that requires punishment and reconciliation. So every person responsible for his acts must be responsible for reparations. So we must establish personal responsibility. 1996 there was a law saying that victims are indemnified. The first responsible was the state. So the government should pay. In 2001, with installation of gacaca until now, the indemnification …those who stole need to pay back what they stole. A fund should collect in the place of victims. Resolution of UNSC for ICTR. Didn’t mention the disposition and restitution for victims . Socially, when there are reparations, the victims are socially and financially rehabilitated.

Gacaca, which is about to end, has urged restitution of things stolen. Most people are poor, however. Therefore, they can’t really force the restitution.

International responsibility: UN, AU have passively assisted the genocide, so they must make reparations. 2007, there was an initiative in UN promoted by the civil society to make reparations, but there are some countries, like France, who stand in the way of successfully pleading this case.

Problematique de l’indemnisation des victims du genocide des Tutsi sur le plan international/ Debate on the indemnification of Tutsi genocide victims on the international level

Must be a fault, and must be able to be regulated via law. The international community made a mistake. The UN should have acted, violated the following:
1. Convention on genocide
2. International texts on human rights
3. Founding text: UN Charter
The UN should have predicted it. Convention calls for international cooperation before genocide happens and to end it when it does.
The human rights texts, while not binding, should be honored. Effective and universal respect of human rights—this was not honored.
UN Charter—to resolve humanitarian conflicts. Human rights, etc. without regard for nationality, race, etc.
The Rwandan state takes the place of the victims and goes before the UN and international court of justice demanding reparations.
Associations make an appeal to the fund for victims of torture. There are only 2 such associations.

Reconstitution des Ressources Humaines et du tissu social comme composante essentielle de la base du developpement durable / Reconstitution of Human Resources and Social Fabric as an essential component of the base of sustainable development

All productive resources. The underdevelopment of the economy and human resources. Without these, Rwanda cannot develop.

Immigration. Identity crisis of Rwandans. Creation of commission for reconciliation, CNLG. Politics of decentralization helps promote the multiplication of civil society.

Improving access to justice to secure women’s reproductive rights
Tutsi women were used as weapons against Hutu men. Propaganda was used to say that Tutsi women were superior to Hutu women. Women against women: ubuzungerezi. Hutu women then hated Tutsi women.
Sexual violence in front of ICTR. Rape and sexual violence was recognized as genocide for the first time. Legal precedent. Definition: “physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive.”
A woman was tried for sexual violence by using her son. Now we see that rape is not just a weapon of men against women. But there are no reparations. A judge laughed at a woman who was reliving her experience at the ICTR. Judge it by its objectives: accountability, deterrence, and national reconciliation and peace.
After the genocide, specialized national courts were established. 1996 sexual violence began to be tried as a Category 1 offense. It’s the only act among them that is not a “planning” act, even if we know now that it rape was part of the genocide plan.
Gacaca: since the regular courts were slow, 2000 gacaca was introduced. Organic Law no. 13/2008, Gacaca tried 1st category offenses including rape. There were innovations of the process that protected the victim and community: there was a camera trial, and professional secrecy was protected. National courts did not preserve privacy. There are no public confessions for perpetrators of rape. In criminal matters, it is the state against the offender. For these cases, the victim can choose not to have their case tried today; when they are ready, they can go to justice. There are also trauma counselors allowed at trial. There are no reparations.
IBUKA, AVEGA, SOLACE ministries provide trauma counseling for rape in Rwanda.
At Nuremberg, rape was seen as too atrocious to prosecute.
There is a draft law on reproductive health, human trafficking, gender based violence, anti-discrimination.
Edmund Burke: “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

La reconstruction identitaire a travers les familles artificielles de l’association des eleves et etudiants rescapes du genocide/ The Identity Reconstruction of Artificial Families Among Student Associations of Genocide Survivors

Young people grow up in associations of orphan survivors. Artificial families are very valuable to people; provide familial protection and comfort. Youth have created these families through associations. The youth then find their own solutions to problems. One such association is the GAERG. They refuse to be restrained by their handicap—they continue to live with dignity.

They also have an artificial family surname. They have a mother, a father, uncles, aunts, children. The family names they take show compassion, solidarity, and strength. The different people play the different roles; the “parents” give away their “children” in marriage, for example. This combats negationism. Members value the group they belong to. They try to be strong, but they are still psychologically weak. “Fathers” can have the same age as “children.” They participate in parent-teacher conferences. They sign report cards. The family splits the responsibilities evenly. They are enterprising. The families develop an identity and a non-violent and pro-justice ethnic.

Before being killed, the real parents of these children were humiliated, and other adults, particularly killers, have been bad models of behavior. The survivors want to help lead the reconstruction of their country through better behavior and active participation.

When real kids are born, they participate in the artificial family. This auto-affirmation shows a desire to live and survive and thrive.

L’innomable du genocide ou les violences d’un passé qui ne passé pas: Mecanismes psychologiques de la fabrique des bourreaux et clinique de la survivance chez les victimes / The unspeakable aspect of the genocide, where the violence of the past does not pass : Psychological mechanisms of the fabric of execution and its vestiges among victims

The past has not passed. People are condemned to live with the results of the tragedy. How to live with the unliveable?
I learned to live with it. Nous nous pensons immortels, mais il y a la mort. Need a new identity : familiale, sociale. After trauma, the mechanism to defend yourself is weakened.
Understanding the words of the survivors. One woman said she wasn’t crazy like this before. When you see a person die, you live like a survivor, somewhere between living and dead. They are tortured inside.
You need to name the acts to deal with them. The words of the genocidaires are printed in their minds forever. If words can damage, words can heal. They say they are not the same as they were before; they wish they were with those who were lost. “My soul is with them,” said one woman.
People now have begun to forget that these people have lost so much.

Using narrative writing to facilitate the healing process among survivors of the genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda

Dr. Laura Apol, Dr. Tatyana Sigal, Ken Bialek, Dr. Yakov Sigal, Glorieuse Uwizeye, Ernest Mutwarasibo

Low cost intervention that can effectively lessen the effects of genocide-induced trauma among survivors.

Traumatic memories: disorganized, fragmented, incomplete, vague, over-general, little to no narrative content. As a result, memories cannot be integrated into personal awareness.
Does writing help to heal? Clinicians have been trying to find alternative therapies to express themselves. Document decrease in medical visits, depression, somatic symptoms, and enhances immune system.

Like any psychotherapy, it converts images and emotions into words. It organizes traumatic memories. Gives the writer a sense of control. Gives sense of security and safety.
Writing uses therapeutic techniques. Labels feelings, which reduces emotional response. Desensitization because of the editing process, working with the same story over a period of time. Flooding (exposing the person to painful memories, which then abate, with the goal of integrating emotions and awareness.)

Project: designed the workshop, worked with facilitators, and then conducted the workshops.
Working with the facilitators. Was at the genocide memorial in Kigali. Used 2 step format. Step 1: writers would have a free-writing, brainstorming exercise. They would respond to prompts provided by the project leaders. Step 2: Wrote narrative in a linear way.
3 rounds of writing- write about time before, during, and after the genocide.
Before Genocide: Write as much as possible about experience beforehand. Explain things in ways they may not have done before. Details about life: their furniture, favorite foods, activities. They discovered after this stage that the experience of genocide didn’t begin on April 7, 1994. Many felt return of pre-genocide happiness, memories of being with families, family celebrations, being secure with their parents. For some, time before the genocide wasn’t necessarily good. Sometimes, remembering the past made them sad, and for many, it was the first time they had shared their memories.

During the genocide: One woman said “I didn’t feel anything when I heard someone had died during genocide. I couldn’t allow myself to express emotion. That’s why the emotions come up not at other times.” A man, Emery, said he fell into a dream in 1994, and didn’t awake until 1999. He saw dead people everywhere, and only came to realize in 1999 that a genocide had occurred. Some were angry about expressing their stories in written form instead of orally.
Some finally have confronted the questions they never asked. No one shared their personal memories of Genocide; they all talked about the process of writing.

After genocide: Write about the good things that are happening in their lives now, and what their hopes and dreams for themselves and their countries are. They focused on positive things, focused on a sense of hope, made clear the distinction between hope and fantasy—that hope required action. They asked the question—what if there isn’t anything positive afterward?

Discoveries: They found it was easier to write the story in 3 stages. It was easier to separate. It was easier to write in Kinyarwanda than in English. Free writing helped them to remember the details of their stories.

The facilitators all wanted to keep writing and wanted to make their stories public.

A year later, they followed up; people liked that they had the opportunity to talk about life before genocide. Some said they also said they had written material they didn’t wish to share. Rwanda is primarily an oral culture. Writing is challenging and requires new skills and training. Oral telling, however, are created selectively. When you write, you write more slowly and there are more gaps that must be filled in.

They included a psychological component. What they wish: Narrative Therapeutic writing, then low cost scalable mental health care, and then positive economic outcomes.

Who: orphans, women, college aged survivors, high school survivors. Partners: Association Mwana Ukundwa, Kigali Genocide Museum.

Temoigner pour reapprendre a vivre chez les enfants survivants du genocide des Tutsi a Mugina/ Witnessing to learn how to live again ; child survivors of the Tutsi genocide in Mugina
Ernest Mutwarasibo

Children can give us information that is indispensable to the global understanding of the genocide. Most work is interested in written sources, particularly with the planning and execution of genocide. But this work is interested in testimonies of survivors. These studies were led by psychotherapists. Children, to this day, are not considered a dignified source of information about the genocide. Some say that children cannot explain exactly what happened over the course of the genocide, including what happened to their parents. The testimonies of the children are integral, though. More precisely, some children recognized what happened to their parents and families, whether torture or killing. Children hid under the cadavers of their parents and observed everything going on around them. Some remember the persecution of members of their family from 1990-1993. These children live in extreme poverty, they lack familial love, they are sometimes handicapped, they are lonely. The children don’t just see genocide as a systematic act, but the continued attack on their survival.
Before the genocide: the time of persecution against the family
Genocide: systematic destruction of family
After genocide: They face their problems that continue as a result of the genocide.
The children have adopted a collective identity of pardoning.

Psychosocial Care of Youth Survivors of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda. A Case Study of Youth at APACE High school.
Gloriose Uwizeye

Far too often the psychosocial care of orphan survivors of genocide is overshadowed by other immediate needs such as shelter and food, or is overlooked as children are reinserted into the educational system. The lack of this care negatively affects efforts to reconstruct the lives of survivors and get them on the road to a stable and productive citizenship.

Efforts have been made to meet these needs. Different institutions, such as universities, took the initiative of training mental health service providers. At the end of 2007, 273 trauma counselors did a 1 yr training, 3,812 psychosocial assistants trained in active listening, 152 trained as psychiatric nurses and 12 as clinical psychologists.

Researcher wanted to know what the survivors were dealing with. Qualitative approach. Open ended semi-structured interviews with 8 people (4 boys and 4 girls) 18-24 yrs old. There are 20 total at this school. They had all been in foster families but they left because they all had conflicts with the foster families. No psychosocial services or support networks were provided to these students. 15 yrs later, the study participants still suffer emotional reactions related to survival, such as fear, anger, deep sadness, week-long bouts of insomnia, emotional instability, lack of appetite, suicidal impulses, lack of concentration in class, flashbacks, low-self esteem, and hopelessness.

Most emotional reactions triggered by lack of a proper home. They are traumatized by the fact that they don’t have a place to go during vacations—it makes them very aware of the fact that they have no one. Some said it’s because no one visited them, or advised them on decisions that affect their future. They said that it impacts their school performance. They said it’s hard to attain the required marks to qualify for government university scholarships or those offered by FARG (the genocide survivor association).

Their primary source of support was sharing their problems and experiences with other youth survivors. They want to be a part of an extended family network.

This raises questions about availability/access to psychosocial care services by survivors. Quality of services is undermined by attitudes that counselors must be trained for weeks to be able to deal with this.

La memoire du genocide du Rwanda et la reconfiguration identitaire/The memory of the Rwandan genocide and the reconfiguration of identity
Dr. Dominique Payette

Ethnic identity is very strong; in the HCR camps in Goma, the youth reconfirmed their loyalty and pride in their Hutu ethnicity.
For one woman who lives overseas, she is very proud of being Tutsi because it now signifies everything her people have suffered. Many survivors who live overseas feel like their experiences are not appreciated because there is so little understanding in Canada of the Rwandan genocide. It’s very frustrating for them to have to answer questions in Canada like, “What is the difference between Hutu and Tutsi? “ or “Why do people in Africa kill each other?”
What the survivors have said is that they want to tell everything to their children. Rwandese in Canada have no desire to marry other expat Rwandese.

Can forgetting actually help healing? WE cannot forget what cannot be punished. It will take at least a generation.

Litterature, ethique et memoire d’un genocide/ Literature, ethics, and memory of genocide
Prof. Josias Semujanga

What can we do to understand what happens after genocide? Rumor was used in negationism. In Africa, in the West, we look at the texts. After, there are many texts that were published on Rwanda that were “scientific.” There were paintings, cartoons, music. How do we use these to talk about the post-genocide period? Literature allows us to freely discuss the problems in society—it’s a debate about society.

Through literature, you can force students to think about society. Novel called Murambi. It ends with, “There are survivors, even after the devil has passed.” How to think about this? Lessons can be carried. La Reine de Colline. The protagonist recalls being raped by a soldier.

Effacement des traces du genocide des Tutsi/Erasing traces of the Tutsi genocide

How much evidence is being destroyed. Speeches by traitors. People we met told us that after the death of Habyarimana, killings did not immediately begin. Kibeho was known for the appearances of the Virgin Mary. Some argue that she predicted the genocide. There was a commission to look at the churches which would become memorials of the genocide. Gacaca: some people were using their testimonies to destroy evidence. One woman says witnesses are contributing to the destruction of evidence. “We killed, we stole, but without mentioning the individual role.” There is no way to know what part that person actually played. Now, you look at the Kibeho church, it has been reconstructed since the genocide, so you can’t tell that anything happened here. Children won’t believe you when you tell them.

Testimony, Law, and Literature
Aimable Twagirimana

In 1959, Tutsis were taken to Bugesera. Geography of genocide. The end is not just to kill, but to humiliate before killing. Africans who went to the US redefined themselves after liberation, and reconstructed an identity. Survivors are very confused about their identities. Massacres happened in a culture of impunity. Definition of the “other”—Jews as lice, Tutsis as snakes and cockroaches. We need faith in the imaginative possibilities of literature, so it can create an infinite space in which to confront difficult issues.

Du Viol a la loi GBV et après. L’importance des etudes feminines et du genre au sein des institutions academiques rwandaises/ From rape, to gender-based violence, and after. The importance of women’s studies at Rwandese academic institutions

Prof. Bea Rangira Gallimore

2006-2007. 35 murders of women by husbands in 2006. 22 murders of women by husbands in 2007.

There is a general rise of GBV. Adultery, concubinage, polygamy are against Rwandan law.

We often think in terms of gender and sex—and we have stereotypes. If both members of a couple are doctors, we are more inclined to believe that the male must be the doctor. The problem with violence against women is post traumatic stress disorder. Kigali Health Institute said that more focus must be devoted to counseling.

National and Personal Reconciliation: The challenges for survivors
Prof. Alexandre Dauge-Roth

Based on testimonies of orphans. Gacaca has become the dominant forum for discussing what happened in 1994. Survivors must live alongside perpetrators and acknowledge requests for forgiveness. While perpetrators are allowed some degree of amnesty, the survivors’ experiences are relegated to memorials and commemorations. Bearing witness is an exercise that involves not just survivors but Rwanda as a whole. Their success in contemporary Rwanda depends on their economic success, among other factors. Testimony is one avenue through which the victim can voice their suffering, seek to inscribe their story within their community, and call for communities of listeners. By refusing to remain silent, survivors keep the memory of those who died alive, and gain social legitimacy. Their testimony represents the past, but also a social performance of the survivor’s agency within their community in the area of reconciliation. It documents how the genocide was planned, fighting negationist ideology. It fights a culture of impunity. They achieve social recognition. And survivors find a way to escape the grip of their memories. Personal history can then be inscribed within a larger History.

Memorialization and rememberance: judicial paradigms prevail. The very act of testifying puts one’s suffering at a more tolerable distance. How can survivors negotiate their feeling of belonging to a community? To bear witness to one’s own estrangement shows a desire for connectedness. They create a social space and reclaim on their own terms the meaning of their survival. If voices of survival are repressed, it is because of cultural trauma. Bearing witness calls for remembrance and mourning.

One of the obstacles resides in the disbelief and negation of survivors’ stories. Francois Ngarambe is trying to collect 15,000 testimonies from survivors. Most survivors celebrate gacaca as a way to find out from perpetrators where their loved ones are, so they may give them a dignified burial.

Vice-President of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide
Thank you for your active participation and resourceful presentations. The Commission is committed to concretize the conclusions of this symposium. We invite you to the Genocide Commemoration tomorrow and which will go until April 15, 2009.

Closing Remarks: Minister of Sport and Culture
Thank you for those who have come from every corner of the world to discuss this issue. We have talked about things that happened over 100 days in just 2 days. The truth resides with the people. The people of the rural areas who don’t speak French, but who speak Kinyarwanda. They need to express what they saw, what they lived. For all the survivors and other Rwandans, we will remember until July. 10,000 people died per day. 10,000 families will remember each day. We must combat genocide denial, but so must you. Help us to transmit the message about what has happened here. Because you have come here to try to understand the genocide, you have the baggage. We need to give hope. This is how we will commemorate tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Morgan..Thanks for your brief but clear overview of the Symposium. You've really done a great job.
Now my Comment is only to correct a mistake you have made on my organization's name. It is not GAIG but GAERG instead. This means in french "Groupe des Anciens Etudiants Resacpés du Genocide des Tutsi " i.e Group of Former Students Survivors of Genocide against Tutsi. if you want to learn more about GAERG you can visit the follwing Link:

Thanks alot.

4/23/2009 3:24 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

Thank you! They said it so quickly in French that I didn't catch it. Thanks so so much for correcting this!

5/05/2009 5:51 PM  
Blogger lynne lorentsen said...

Muraho Morgan,
I'm Lynne from Milford, NH, and I am coming to Kibuye in August on a P.E.A.C.E. team. I am curious:have you heard of the work that teams like this are doing? I have linked your blog on mine, and also excerpted part of your recent account of how new family structures of orphans are forming. Wow, I am amazed. Thanks for your work, the info I am finding on your blog, and for your life. By the way, loved the dress you wore to the wedding!
you can find me at

5/24/2009 8:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Morgan. Now you can have more information regarding GAERG on it newly launched website at

Thanks a lot.


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